Ruth Ann Nytes just can’t quit Toody’s.
When her husband retired from dairy farming near New Prague, they moved to Belle Plaine, didn’t like it, and bought a small hobby farm with a few cows near Henderson.
Nytes needed something to do and opened Toody’s Sweet Treats in 2008 in a historic building on the main drag of Henderson. In 2012, she decided to give the retirement thing another shot and sold the shop. Their son took over the hobby farm and they moved to Henderson.
“Someone took it (Toody’s) over for a year and a half and couldn’t make it work. I was already looking for something else at the time in Hackensack and New Prague, but the feeling wasn’t there. I love Henderson.”
She reopened Toody’s in 2014 and has been there since.
But this summer, Nytes, 62, toyed with the idea of quitting — again.
“I almost retired. I was going to hang it up this year but a light went on and said, ‘No, you can’t.’ I said, ‘What the hell would I do with myself if I retire?’ I love people and love what I do.
“It’s more like a hobby, but I sure work hard at a hobby.”
Rather than stopping, Nytes is planning to make some changes and expand her offerings. A small telepharmacy business that was in the back of her shop closed recently and Nytes is going to use some of the space.
“It’s in the brainstorming stage. I’d like to make homemade fudge and caramel again. I used to do it and stopped, and people would come in and ask for it,” she said.
“And they really like my homemade pies. I can’t keep up.
“We’ll see what my body can handle,” she said of the potential additional offerings to her shop.
She’s open seven days a week in the summer and closes Sundays and Mondays in the winter. She’s considering changing her opening time from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and use the time to do more baking. “My busy time is 11 to 5.”
In the winter she makes homemade soups. Her different specials throughout the year are posted on Toody’s Facebook page.
A special place
Jim Wartman, an adviser at New Country School, said Toody’s is a community treasure.
“I love the old-fashioned part of it, the beautiful building. You can take your family there for ice cream. It’s a place you go Saturday morning and see a cribbage game going on. It’s part of the hub of the community.”
And he said, there’s the ice cream.
“It’s really good, old-fashioned ice cream and sodas. It’s a destination for people,” Wartman said.
“You have the stereotypical view of bikers parked outside a bar. But on Saturdays and Sundays there’s so many bikers parked in front of Toody’s eating ice cream.”
While Nytes has flirted with retiring and has taken a circuitous route in her career, she’s revved up about new possibilities for her shop.
“When I was thinking about retiring this summer people heard rumors and came in and said ‘you’re closing?’
“I said until you see the closed sign on the door don’t worry.”